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The Journal of Biological Chemistry
Year: 2009  |  Volume: 284  |  Issue: 23  |  Page No.: 15549 - 15556

Degradation of ppGpp by Nudix Pyrophosphatase Modulates the Transition of Growth Phase in the Bacterium Thermus thermophilus

T Ooga, Y Ohashi, S Kuramitsu, Y Koyama, M Tomita, T Soga and R. Masui    

Abstract:

A major bacterial alarmone, guanosine 3',5'-bispyrophosphate (ppGpp), controls cellular growth under conditions of nutritional starvation. For most bacteria, intracellular ppGpp levels are tightly controlled by the synthesis/degradation cycle of RelA and SpoT activities. This study shows a novel ppGpp regulatory protein governing the cellular growth of Thermus thermophilus, Ndx8, a member of the Nudix pyrophosphatase family that degrades ppGpp to yield guanosine 3',5'-bisphosphate. The ndx8-null mutant strain exhibited early stage growth arrest accompanied by the stationary phase-specific morphologies and global transcriptional modulation under nutritionally defined conditions. Several possible substrate compounds of Ndx8, which specifically accumulated in the ndx8 mutant cells, were identified by employing a capillary electrophoresis time-of-flight mass spectrometry-based metabolomics approach. Among them, the hydrolytic activity of Ndx8 for ppGpp was significant not only in vitro but also in vivo. Finally, the elimination of ppGpp synthetic activity suppressed the observed phenotype of the ndx8 mutation, suggesting that the function of Ndx8 as a growth regulator is involved in ppGpp accumulation, which is thought to act as a trigger of the growth phase transition. These results suggest a novel mechanism of ppGpp-mediated growth control by the functional relay between Ndx8 and SpoT activity as ppGpp scavengers.

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